Dharma World

July-September 2010, Volume 37


Tackling the Question “What Is the Lotus Sutra?”

The International Lotus Sutra Seminar by Gene Reeves

What began as a single planned “final” meeting between Japanese Buddhist scholars and American Christian theologians, whose purpose was to explore aspects of the Mahayana scripture that is one of the world’s great religious classics, has become an ongoing series of sessions that are increasingly both intellectually and spiritually rewarding.

Gene Reeves has done research and lectured on the Lotus Sutra worldwide for a quarter century. He is a consultant and teacher at Rissho Kosei-kai and is retired from the University of Tsukuba. Before coming to Japan in 1989, he was head of Meadville Lombard Theological School and a lecturer at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His The Lotus Sutra: A Contemporary Translation of a Buddhist Classic was published in 2008.

Groping Through the Maze of the Lotus Sutra by Miriam Levering

The author compares herself to an unprepared explorer who found that the sutra text lacked a number of things she expected to find within its pages.

Miriam Levering, an international advisor at Rissho Kosei-kai, is professor of Buddhism and of Chinese and Japanese religion at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 1978. She has edited a book called Rethinking Scripture, a study of the concept and use of sacred texts in the major religious traditions, and has written many articles on women and gender in Chan and Zen Buddhism.

A Phenomenological Answer to the Question
“What Is the Lotus Sutra?” by Donald W. Mitchell

This author has found the Lotus Sutra to be a source of transformative goodness in the lives of Buddhists, and a motivational force to bring healing and unity to the world.

Donald W. Mitchell is a professor of comparative philosophy of religion at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He has served the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a consultant for dialogue with Buddhism and is active in the Focolare Movement. One of his most recent books is Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience.

The Materiality of the Lotus Sutra: Scripture, Relic,
and Buried Treasure by D. Max Moerman

What is the Lotus Sutra? The scripture itself provides one ready answer: The Lotus Sutra is a Buddha relic. Like a number of other early Mahayana sutras, the Lotus Sutra asserts an equivalence between a roll of scripture and a relic of the Buddha. Employing a new theory of embodiment, the Lotus Sutra replaces the Buddha’s corporeal remains with his textual corpus. The material form of the Buddha’s word, rather than the material remains of the Buddha’s body, is recognized as the central object of veneration and, as such, is to be enshrined in a stupa, a reliquary previously reserved for the remains of a buddha. . . .

D. Max Moerman, associate professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, joined the faculty of Barnard College in 1998. Dr. Moerman is the associate director of the Donald Keene Center for Japanese Culture, Columbia University, and of the Columbia Center for Japanese Religions. His publications include Localizing Paradise: Kumano Pilgrimage and the Religious Landscape of Premodern Japan.

The Lotus Sutra Eludes Easy Definition: A Report on the Fourteenth International Lotus Sutra Seminar by Joseph M. Logan

Look! Up in the sky!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s Superman!” The people in Metropolis didn’t have nearly as much trouble identifying Superman as eleven scholars had in trying to nail down a concrete answer to the theme question, “What is the Lotus Sutra?” at the fourteenth International Lotus Sutra Seminar held, for the second consecutive year, in Paradise (i.e., Rissho Kosei-kai, Kona Branch, Hawaii). Gene Reeves, one of the founding fathers of this conference series, even allowed for the ambiguity inherent in the topic by inviting participants to approach the theme from any particular point of view they desired to use. It will surprise no one, however, that sometimes there is no easy answer to what may seem to be a “simple” question. . . .

Joseph M. Logan is a senior fellow at the Essential Lay Buddhism Study Center in Tokyo. His work as a member of the center’s translation team focuses on English wording and cadence with the goal of making recitation in English a more effective practice for internalizing a sutra’s teachings.

Reflections

Like the Lotus Blossom by Nichiko Niwano

The Japanese poet Saigyo (1118 – 90), known for such works as his Sankashu (Mountain Cottage Collection), left us this verse: “The lotus blooming, / The waves beating / On the shore – / My mind hears them / As the preaching of the Dharma.” . . .

Nichiko Niwano is president of Rissho Kosei-kai and the Niwano Peace Foundation, a president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, and special advisor to Shinshuren (Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan).

The Buddha’s Teachings Affect All of Humankind by Nikkyo Niwano

This essay is part of a continuing series of translations from a volume of inspirational writings by the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai. Dharma World will continue to publish these essays because of their lasting value as guidance for the practice of one’s daily faith.

Nikkyo Niwano, the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, was an honorary president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace and was honorary chairman of Shinshuren (Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan) at the time of his death in October 1999.

Niwano Peace Prize

Women, Work, and Peace by Ela Ramesh Bhatt

The Niwano Peace Foundation presented the twenty-seventh Niwano Peace Prize to Ms. Ela Ramesh Bhatt, the founder and former secretary-general of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat State, India. Her contribution to the empowerment of socially and economically oppressed women in India and elsewhere through the activities of the SEWA has won her recognition around the world. The prize was presented in Tokyo on May 13. The following is the recipient’s acceptance speech.

Interview

True to Self and Open to Others An interview with Rev. Fergus Capie,
director of the London Inter Faith Centre

In the following interview, Rev. Fergus Capie describes his views on interfaith relations and dialogue with fundamentalism as well as movements outside the boundaries of religion. Rev. Capie is the director of the London Inter Faith Centre, which he describes as a place of meeting, study, and dialogue among the religions and with the secular world. The interview took place in Aldeburgh, England, with Ms. Janine Edge, chair of the Trustees of the Scientific and Medical Network in Gloucestershire, England, as the interviewer. It originally appeared in the Network Review, the journal of the Scientific and Medical Network in slightly different form in December 2009. Dharma World is pleased to publish this revised version of the interview, in which a new reference on interfaith cooperation has been added by Rev. Capie.

The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary (102)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 16: Revelation of the [Eternal] Life of the Tathagata (3) by Nikkyo Niwano

This is 102nd installment of a detailed commentary on the Threefold Lotus Sutra by the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano.

Dharma World

  1. Autumn 2019, Volume 46

    Manga, Anime, and Contemporary Religion

  2. Spring 2019, Volume 46

    Is Emptiness the Goal?

  3. July-December 2018, Volume 45

    The Buddhahood of Plants and Trees: The Environment and Buddha-Nature

  4. January-June 2018, Volume 45

    Buddhism’s One Vehicle in a World of Many Religions

  5. July-December 2017, Volume 44

    Religions Tackling Extremism

  6. January-June 2017, Volume 44

    Religion and Animals

  7. October-December 2016, Volume 43

    Features: Listening

  8. July-September 2016, Volume 43

    Contemporary Ideas about Karma

  9. April-June 2016, Volume 43

    Buddhism and Food

  10. January-March 2016, Volume 43

    Dual Religious Identity: Can One Practice Two Religions?

  11. October-December 2015, Volume 42

    The Modern Significance of Meditative Practices in Religions

  12. July-September 2015, Volume 42

    Religious Rituals and Their Meaning for Today

  13. April-June 2015, Volume 42

    Religion's Contributions to Society

  14. January-March 2015, Volume 42

    Cultivating Hearts That Welcome the Other

  15. October-December 2014, Volume 41

    Buddhism and Language

  16. July-September 2014, Volume 41

    Life After Death

  17. April-June 2014, Volume 41

    Building an East Asian Community: Roles of Religions

  18. January-March 2014, Volume 41

    Aging Societies and Religion

  19. October-December 2013, Volume 40

    Nuclear Power and Contemporary Religion

  20. July-September 2013, Volume 40

    Where Does the Buddha Live Now?

  21. April-June 2013, Volume 40

    Modern Meanings of Festivals

  22. January-March 2013, Volume 40

    Transforming Greed

  23. October-December 2012, Volume 39

    Religions Coping with Prejudice

  24. July-September 2012, Volume 39

    The Significance of Religious Communities

  25. April-June 2012, Volume 39

    Buddhist Teachings on Spiritual Liberation

  26. January-March 2012, Volume 39

    The Meaning of Modern Pilgrimage

  27. October-December 2011, Volume 38

    The Evolution of Funerals in Japan

  28. July-September 2011, Volume 38

    Buddhism in North America

  29. April-June 2011, Volume 38

    Religion and the Power of Women

  30. January-March 2011, Volume 38

    What Is True Wealth?

  31. October-December 2010, Volume 37

    Dialogue Draws Religions Closer

  32. July-September 2010, Volume 37

    Tackling the Question "What Is the Lotus Sutra?"

  33. April-June 2010, Volume 37

    Religion's Role in Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

  34. January-March 2010, Volume 37

    Help in Overcoming Alienation

  35. October-December 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Prayer

  36. July-September 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Media

  37. April-June 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Health

  38. January-March 2009, Volume 36

    The Changing Forms of the Family and the Role of Religion

  39. October-December 2008, Volume 35

    The Meaning of Giving in the Contemporary World

  40. July-September 2008, Volume 35

    Buddhism in the Face of Environmental Crisis

  41. April-June 2008, Volume 35

    The Many Forms of the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin

  42. January-March 2008, Volume 35

    Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

  43. October-December 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Bioethics

  44. July-September 2007, Volume 34

    Respect for Ancestors

  45. April-June 2007, Volume 34

    Self-Examination and Peace Work

  46. January-March 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Social Responsibility: Boddhisattva Practice Today

  47. October-December 2006, Volume 33

    Buddishm in Dialogue

  48. July-September 2006, Volume 33

    Religions Working for Peace

  49. April-June 2006, Volume 33

    Creating the World of the One Vehicle: The Centennial of the Birth of Rev. Nikkyo Niwano

  50. January-February 2006, Volume 33

    The Human Condition and Religion: A Global Future?

  51. November-December 2005, Volume 32

    Remembering Hiroshima

  52. September-October 2005, Volume 32

    Spirituality and Development

  53. July-August 2005, Volume 32

    Women in Contemporary Japanese Religion and Society

  54. May-June 2005, Volume 32

    Rissho Kosei-kai 67th

  55. March-April 2005, Volume 32

    "Thousand Buddhas," Sanbanggulsa Temple, South Korea

  56. January-February 2005, Volume 32

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  57. November-December 2004, Volume 31

    Peace Building Through Multi-Religious Cooperation

  58. September-October 2004, Volume 31

    The Increasing Importance of Dialogue and Cooperation

  59. July-August 2004, Volume 31

    Paths to Reconciliation

  60. May-June 2004, Volume 31

    Religion in Crisis

  61. March-April 2004, Volume 31

    Spiritual Friendship

  62. January-February 2004, Volume 31

    Resolving Conflict

  63. November-December 2003, Volume 30

    Dividing Good From Evil

  64. September-October 2003, Volume 30

    Common Truths: Cooperation Among Religions

  65. July-August 2003, Volume 30

    Niwano Peace Foundation

  66. May-June 2003, Volume 30

    Religionists United in Prayer for Peace

  67. March-April 2003, Volume 30

    Life is Larger Than Globalization

  68. January-February 2003, Volume 30

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  69. November-December 2002, Volume 29

    Roundtable Disscussion at the World Congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom

  70. September-October 2002, Volume 29

    Sixth Assembly of the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

  71. July-August 2002, Volume 29

    The Most Reverend Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Recipient of the 19th Niwano Peace Prize

  72. May-June 2002, Volume 29

    National Treasure Tapestry Illustrating Shakyamuni Sermon to the Faithful

  73. March-April 2002, Volume 29

    Celebration of the Anniversary of Shakyamuni's Birth

  74. January-February 2002, Volume 29

    Religious Delegates Gather in New York for WCRP Symposium

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